Trump impeachment: Analysis and news on the House charges and Senate acquittal of the president

The Senate trial on the two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, ended with acquittal on both charges.
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The fast-moving impeachment of President Donald Trump, stemming from his dealings with Ukraine, moved to the Senate for trial in January after the House voted a month earlier to adopt two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Senate voted in early February to acquit the president on both charges.

Trump's impeachment followed weeks of testimony related to his efforts to press Ukraine for investigations into Democratic rivals and hours of fiery debate over the process.

Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Read all of the breaking news and analysis on impeachment from NBC News' political reporters, as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Trump impeachment highlights

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Live Blog

What House rules say about Republicans' complaints about access

Several Republicans who Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said planned to storm a secure deposition room Wednesday to complain about access were already able to attend the witness' testimony, according to House rules.

Those rules say members may participate in the depositions if they serve on the committees involved, stating, “Only members, committee staff designated by the chair or ranking minority member, an official reporter, the witness, and the witness's counsel are permitted to attend.” 

That means Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have been allowed to take part in the impeachment inquiry depositions, which on Wednesday involved testimony from a top Pentagon official overseeing Ukraine policy.

At least nine Republicans that already have access to the depositions were on Gaetz's list of those planning to attend his protest at the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF — a sit-in that delayed the testimony of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, for several hours. They include Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Lee Zeldin of New York, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Steve Watkins of Kansas, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Mark Green of Tennessee, Jody Hice of Georgia, Ron Wright of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

Several of those members — Jordan, Zeldin, Gosar, Watkins, Norman, Hice and Perry — have been spotted by NBC News going in and out of the depositions. In total, 47 Republicans, or about a quarter of the conference in the House, are already able to attend the closed-door tesimony.

Analysis: Why Trump's impeachment defense sounds a lot like his Mueller defense

On Tuesday, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, gave what House Democrats described as "disturbing" testimony about President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings. The testimony was not open to the public, but news outlets obtained and subsequently published Taylor’s 15-page opening statement.

Taylor’s statement makes clear that Trump did indeed pressure Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s an abuse of power and a flagrant attempt to use the office of the presidency for personal gain. But as both Taylor’s statement and Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s statements to Congress also make clear, Trump wants the issue framed in terms of bribery (a crime) instead of abuse of power. Why? Because bribery — like all crimes — is hard to prove

Read attorney and author Teri Kanefield's full analysis here

Swalwell discusses why Dems are keeping testimony closed to the public

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, told CNN on Thursday that Democrats aren't interviewing witnesses publicly at this point as a precaution against witnesses tailoring their testimony.

"What we're doing right now is a first pass," Swalwell said. "We  are interviewing the witnesses that we know may have been involved and actually paring down that information so that you can pull out what's relevant for the public.

"But also, I want to say this, because it's a fair question that you and others have asked, which  is, why we are not doing it publicly right now?" Swalwell continued. "There was no preliminary investigation done by a special prosecutor or special counsel like Watergate or in the Clinton impeachment trial. We know, however, we have evidence, very recently, that there are witnesses in our case who are talking to each other. That's exactly what we don't want to happen until we have that preliminary investigation. We don't want them to tailor the testimony to each other, we don’t want them to manufacture alibis. So we're trying to protect the information as much as we can before we bring it forward to the public."

"[T]hat's why we're doing this in a closed fashion," he added. "Closed to the public, not to the 120  members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — who have access to the room.”

Speier: Democrats are close to having enough info to make their case

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the House Oversight Committee, said Thursday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" that she thinks Democrats are close to having enough information to present their case for impeachment to the public, despite stonewalling from the Trump administration and opposition from Republicans in Congress.

"I think we’re close to having enough," Speier said, referring to text messages provided by former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and testimony from the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor.

Speier also said lawmakers haven't made a decision to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, who wanted no part of the administration's Ukraine efforts, according to the testimony of the White House's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill. "But I think his testimony could be very compelling," Speier said.

Updated depositions schedule

Due to services honoring the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, no depositions will be held today or Friday. Here's the updated impeachment inquiry schedule, according an official working on the inquiry. 

  • Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, is expected to appear in closed session on Saturday.
  • Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman is expected to appear in closed session on Monday. 
  • Timothy Morrison, senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, is expected to appear in closed session on Thursday, Oct. 31. 

The committees are in discussions with other witnesses. 

The biggest impeachment news of the day you may have missed

Just catching up on Wednesday's impeachment news? Here's what you may have missed:

  • Pentagon official Laura Cooper began her testimony in front of House impeachment investigators five hours late after Republicans stormed the hearing.
  • The House Parliamentarian ruled that the GOP members were in violation of House deposition rules, according to an Intelligence Committee official.
  • In trying to keep Trump's tax returns secret, Trump's lawyers argued he can't be charged with a crime while in office — even if he shoots someone.
  • A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that American voters' support for the House impeachment inquiry has reached its highest level, at 55 percent in the survey.

The latest episode of Article II: Inside Impeachment

On today’s episode, Article II does a deep dive into top diplomat Bill Taylor’s opening statement in the House impeachment inquiry. Host Steve Kornacki talks to Dan De Luce, national security and global affairs reporter for the investigative unit at NBC News, about the most important moments from Taylor’s opening statement on Tuesday.

The two discuss:

  • Key moments from Taylor’s opening statement
  • Whether what we learned from Taylor’s opening statement supports a theory of "quid pro quo"
  • White House and Republican response to Taylor’s testimony

Plus, an update on the Republican effort to interrupt Pentagon official Laura Cooper’s Wednesday deposition and NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams answers a listener question about what happens if a witness lies under oath during a deposition.

Click here to listen.

What Graham says is missing from Trump's impeachment messaging ...

Here's what Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says the White House should do to improve its impeachment messaging:

“I think Clinton had a pretty good model," Graham told NBC News on Wednesday. "He let people answer questions about impeachment that were trained in the law. He had a spokesperson that was on message every day, that actually talked about what to say every day. He spent most of his time trying to govern the country. I would recommend that model. I saw it in action, I was on the receiving end of it. It worked.

“What’s missing here, I think, is that coordinated effort to put somebody in charge of developing a message and delivering it. I believe that’s about to be corrected, I hope. I like Mulvaney, but the news conference was not exactly what you want. So, you want people who understand the legal implications of what you say as well as the political implications. 

“I think the area most right for the president right now is, 'I’m being treated unfairly, they’re selectively leaking things against me, I can’t challenge the witnesses against me, and this is fundamentally an un-American process; I did nothing wrong,' and just sort of point to the abuses in the House and have a discipline about that. 

“At the same time, I think he needs to reach out to Democrats and Republicans and say, 'In the middle of all this mess, let’s see if we can do something on the USMCA and prescription drugs.'”